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Sicilian titles.- Luxury of the Sicilians in their
Sicilians animated in conversation.— Marriage ce-
remonies.-- Beauty of the ladies.-Anecdote.
The opera.--Gübrieli, her wonderful performance.
-Her caprice-Ballet of the opera. - English
Remarkable springs in Sicily.-Sulphureous baths.
-Springs of warm water in the sea.-Gi-
Return to Naples.
E left the port of Malta in a sparonaro which we hired to convey us to this city.
We coasted along the island, and went to take a view of the north-port, its fortifications and lazaretto. All these are very great, and more like the works of a mighty and powerful people, than of so small a state. The mortars cut out of the rock are a tremendous invention. There are about fifty of them, near the different creeks VOL. II.
and landing places round the island. They are directed at the most probable spots where boats would attempt a landing. The mouihs of some of these mortars are about six feet wide, and they are said to throw a hundred cantars of cannon-ball or stones. A cantar is, I think, about a hundred pound weight; so that if they do take place, they must make a dreadful havock amongst a debarkation of boats.
The distance of Malta from Gozzo is not above four or five miles, and the small island of Commino lies betwixt them. The coasts of all the three are bare and barren, but covered over with towers, redoubts, and fortifications of vari
As Gozzo is supposed to be the celebrated island of Calypso, you may believe we expected something very fine ; but we were disappointed, It must either be greatly fallen off since the time she inhabited it, or the archbishop of Cambray, as well as Homer, must have flattered greatly in their painting. We looked as we went along the coast, for the grotto of the goddess, but could see nothing that resembled it. Neither could we observe those verdant banks eternally covered with flowers ; nor those lofty trees for ever in blossom, that lost their heads in the clouds, and afforded a shade to the sacred baths of her and her nymphs. We saw, indeed, some nymphs ; but as neither Calypso nor Eucharis seemed to be of the number, we paid little attention to them, and I was in no apprehension about my Telemachus : Indeed, it would have required an imagination as strong as Don Quixote's, to have brought about the metamorphosis.
Finding our hopes frustrated, we ordered our sailors to pull out to sea, and bid adieu to the island of Calypso, concluding, either that our intelligence was false, or that both the island and its inhabitants were greatly changed. We soon found ourselves once more at the mercy of the waves : Night came on, and our rowers began their evening song to the Virgin, and beat time with their oars. Their offering was acceptible; . for we had the most delightful weather. We wrapt ourselves up in our cloaks, and slept most comfortably, having provided mattraffes at Malta. By a little after day-break, we found we had got without sight of all the islands, and saw only a part of mount Ætna smoaking above the waters. The wind sprung up fair, and by ten o'clock we had sight of the coast of Sicily.
On considering the smallness of our boat, and the great breadth of this passage, we could not help admiring the temerity of these people, who, at all seasons of the year, venture to Sicily in these diminutive vessels ; yet it is very seldom that any accident happens; they are so perfealy
acquainted with the weather, foretelling, almost to a certainty, every storm, many hours before it comes on. The sailors look upon this passage as one of the most stormy and dangerous in the Mediterranean. It is called the canal of Malta, and is much dreaded by the Levant ships; but indeed, at this season, there is no danger.
We arrived at Sicily a little before sun-set, and landed opposite to Ragusa, and not far from the ruins of the little Hybla ; the third town of that name in the island, distinguished by the epithets of the Great (near mount Ætna), the Leffer (near Augusta), and the Little (just by Ragusa). Here we found a fine sandy beach, and whilst the servants were employed in dressing fupper, we amused ourselves with bathing and gathering shells, of which there is a considerable variety. We were in expectation of finding the nautilus, for which this island is famous ; but in this we did not succeed. However, we picked up some handsome shells, though not equal to those that are brought from the Indies.
After supper, we again launched our bark, and went to sea. The wind was favourable as we could wish. We had our nightly serenade as usual, and the next day, by twelve o'clock, we reached the celebrated port of Agrigentum.